THE THEATER OF CHANGE FORUM
October 18th - 20th, 2019
The Theater of Change Forum brought together artists, law and policy students and faculty, and advocates into four projects with specific policy goals in the areas of education equity, parole and re-entry, community economic development, and political participation of formerly incarcerated people.
This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School, in cooperation with Just Societies.
The four CoLab groups (short for CoLaboratory) -- of roughly 20 to 30 people -- were the working groups, each focused around an issue area and organization.
Each CoLab consisted of equal representation of artists, advocates, law and professional school students and faculty, and directly impacted individuals.
Each CoLab group explored in-depth the policy landscape of their issue area, then created a few short performative pieces that focused on the experiences of group members with respect to their policy area and goals. All of these pieces included an integrated engagement strategy that laid out how these performances could achieve maximum impact through (a) reaching the right audience, (b) integrating policy with narrative within the piece itself, and (c) mobilizing this audience to take action.
Political Participation of Formerly Incarcerated Communities
Co-Leaders: Alejo Rodriguez, Ben Wexler, Alex Kramer, and Mikayla Bartholomew
Associated Organization: Exodus Transitional Community
Co-Leaders: Devon Simmons, Isaac Scott, Susan Sturm, and Tyrone Davis
Associated Organizations: The Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School, The Paralegal Pipeline Project, The Confined Arts
Community Economic Development
Co-Leaders: Ester Fuchs, Britton Smith, Courtney Surmanek, and Terrence Byerson
Associated Organization: STRIVE
Co-Leaders: Richard Gray, Ari Afsar and Zakiyah Ansari
Associated Organization: The Alliance for Quality Education
1pm to 5pm
Goal-setting and community building within each CoLab. This will include an optional dinner and performance to attend.
7pm to 8:30pm
Join BAC for the public portion of the Theater of Change Forum that will include world premiere performances of past collaborations between Broadway artists, law students, and directly impacted advocates created with Broadway Advocacy Coalition. More details below.
10am to 1pm
Focus on the policy landscape of the issue area at hand. Where are the change levers? What is the history with the problem, and of the project aimed at alleviating it? Where can the arts fold into this ongoing work?
1:45pm to 5pm
Focus on the role of narrative, both broadly as a means of activism and persuasion, and specifically to the CoLab projects. What are the lived experiences of folks directly impacted by these issues? What are the lived experiences of the people in the room and how do they intersect or diverge? What narratives will work to advance the policy agenda?
10am to 1pm:
Subgroups work on developing their performance piece and its connection to the project's policy strategy. The piece should arise from the prior day's policy discussions and should center the lived experiences of those directly impacted.
1:45pm to 5pm
The full group convenes and CoLab share their work.
Friday, October 18th
Altschul Auditorium at Columbia University
Storytelling changes people. Narratives matter.
Join us for the public launch of the Theater of Change Forum.
This launch presented world premiere performances of past collaborations between Broadway artists, law students, and directly impacted advocates created with Broadway Advocacy Coalition.
The event included discussions and action steps for us all to merge the areas of storytelling and advocacy into an integrated practice.
Performers and speakers included: Ariana Afsar (Hamilton), Britton Smith (Be More Chill), Amber Iman (Shuffle Along), Ben Wexler (Jonathan Larson Award winner), and Columbia Law School professor Elora Mukherjee.